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John King USA

News/Business. John King. Daily political news and stories. New.

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CNN

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Annapolis, MD, USA

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mpeg2video

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Gadhafi 47, Libya 35, United States 27, Nato 20, Us 18, U.s. 16, America 15, The United States 7, U.n. 6, United 6, Iraq 5, John 5, Washington 4, Wolf Blitzer 4, Omnaris 3, Cnn 3, Afghanistan 3, D.c. 3, Syria 3, David Gergen 3,
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  CNN    John King USA    News/Business. John King. Daily  
   political news and stories. New.  

    March 28, 2011
    7:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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out. of course, the easiest place to find a snake was in the gift shop. >> show my mom and scare her. >> reporter: jeanne moos, cnn, from new york. a quick reminder, president obama's speech only 30 minutes away. we'll bring it to you live right here on cnn. thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." john king usa starts right now. good evening and welcome to our viewers from around the united states and around the world. in 30 minutes the president of the united states delivers a televised address in libya. to make the case that the military involvement is just and promises that it will be brief. he will be speaking from the u.s. army right here in the nation's cap tell and speaking to a country that has mixed feelings about the third military intervention in the past decade and not to convince that this mission has a clear goal or exit strategy. the commander in chief will be
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speaking about how long and decision to intervening here and the united states and violence against demonstrators in bahrain, syria, another hot spot in the middle east. wolf blitzer will rejoin us before and after the president's big address, including anderson cooper as well as reports from inside experience team and great experience team of analysts. let's begin on the ground in libya. we'll check out the map. one clear result if you take a close look at the air strikes and remove here, i want to go back to march 18th. the day before the strikes began, the day before, you can see right here in red, these were towns just before, just before the strikes began. controlled red meaning
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controlled by the regime. look where we are today. controlled green. that is controlled by the opposition. the pentagon insists it's not coordinating with this opposition but little doubt that the campaign has been to tilt the battlefield more in the opposition's favor. the opposition forces back in control of several of the key cities in the east but perhaps beginning to hit road blocks as they start and try to march west towards libya. what is the sense of the opposition that is clearly resur jent but beginning to face obstacles? >> john, it most certainly is. we saw the opposition moving fairly quickly thanks to the air strikes through critical oil towns, and then today they hit a small town that is getting closer to sirte, gadhafi's home
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town. when they were in this town, they say they began to talk to residents and the residents were armed. they are claiming with weapons that were provided to them by gadhafi himself. they say that residents began to fire on them and there were families in this town as well and claimed that they did not want to fire back. they beat a hayes stee retreat and came underneath a hail of bullets. this most certainly, john, adds a very different dynamic to this complex battlefield. how is the opposition going to handle these civilian centers where there aren't gadhafi loyalists willing to put up a fight and what is the coalition willing to do? it's a very big challenge ahead with grave concerns that this shift, as the opposition moves more towards gadhafi's strong hold, the shift that perhaps could lead to even more bloodshed john. >> a challenging question for the president. arwa will be with us in our special coverage throughout the
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evening. a survey found that 47% of americans say it was right and 17% say it was wrong and here's another huge challenge for the president. about four in ten americans see a clear geel for the military mission but half say there is no clear goal. 11% just are not sure. ed henry is live with us more on this big test, ed, for the president of the united states. >> reporter: that's right, john. one thing that senior white house officials say he wants to do tonight is to have a turning point, a pivot, if you will, that he's been saying for more than a week that it would be a short amount of time that the u.s. would take the lead role. now that nato said over the weekend that they would be in control and in command, this is a pivot point for the president to lay out and one other number in the poll that you mentioned, when asked how long the u.s. will be in a lead role, that they are involved in this conflict, 60% saying for some
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time and 33% saying it will be pretty quick. it's the opposite of the message that the president wants to get across tonight and then the second point is what you mentioned about whether or not there is some sort of libya precedent, that if the u.s. sees a situation in the northeast, in africa, will they intervene. white house officials got that question today. will you intervene? no, they say. they are not doing any planning for any military in syria. they are taking this on a case by case basis but there's going to be more pressure with this intervention in libya for the u.s. to get involved in other conflicts around the world, john. >> ed henry will also be with us. let's go to two men well aware of the pressures facing the u.s. commander of chief. david gergen has advised other presidents. david, to you first, you know you have a somewhat skeptical
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american public. you know you have an increasingly inquisitive united states congress and even more importantly to arwa damon's point. >> yes. the commander in chief, before you commit to troops, commit the nation. and this case he committed and has to build public support for the long haul. in the event this goes badly and there's a stalemate, gadhafi stays in power, he's got to have the public and congress behind him for the longer haul. this is his moment to do that. he does it through a clear speech about what his goals are and what is going to unfold in the next few weeks. >> dick burns, he has said, his goals under absolutely no
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circumstances troops on the ground in libya, he has said his goal is to get the united states out of the forefront and into a support role within a matter of days and if not hours. if the opposition on the ground hits resistance, starts getting beaten back from gadhafi forces, what does the president of the united states do? >> john, there's a contradiction here. this is likely to be a protracted civil war and we're handing all of this over to nato but which country is the strongest military power of nato? the united states of america. and if the european allies and nato cannot manage to pursue this with the same intensity that they have exhibited over the last week, they are likely to call upon the united states to do more and the u.s. will remain part of the coalition. i think that's part of the complexity of this and the contradictions inherit in his policy that the president will have to address this evening. >> nick and david, back with us in a few minutes. how has the coalition military campaign changed the balance of power on the ground in libya?
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i want to go to the map and look at this. the president does not like the term war when it comes to this. is this a war? is the united states at war? >> well, you talk about war and i think you talk about world war one and i would not use the term "war." the guy on the ground getting shot at, it's like war. >> the president of the united states addresses the american people tonight. i want to close the map and go back here to march 18th. let me close this one down today. this is march 18th. this is the day before it all started. and here's -- you had the opposition -- you had opposition here -- i'm sorry. here's march 18th. gadhafi took all of this back. the opposition surged this part to the west. then they get the coalition together and here's where we are
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today. this is because of the air strikes. and we can show what they look like. punishing strikes. air strikes, the larger the star, more power has been delivered to that site. this your military that has done this, general. when they hit the wall as they started to hit sirte today, what is your obligation? >> our obl bags has been said all along and i think there is a more active role for the arab world and the united states. >> i read and reread the resolution today. it talks about stopping a brutal dictator from massacring his own people. is that not what has happened in the last 72 hours? >> no, not at least by the united states. i think what has happened is that the rebels have started to get momentum.
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how far that momentum goes, it's up to the rebels and up to gadhafi. i don't think you're really going to see -- let me use my term here. u.s. direct air strikes in support of a rebel advance. i would be very much surprised to see that. but nato now, it's a political body in charge. the command structure is coming into place and it will be a nato decision how far to go. >> what do you see as a general, as his biggest challenge? >> his biggest challenge is going to be to convince, i think, the american people that this is the right thing to do through nato and with u.n. support. >> general, much more of our special coverage just ahead. capital one has asked yours truly
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this is in washington, d.c., moments away from the president delivering the speech to the united states and to the world about the role in the military intervention now under way in libya. the president will talk about the u.s. military role that will be limited both in time and in scope, meaning days, not weeks for air strikes and combat roles and then the president will say a much more support role helping european roles in the coalition. many of you are skeptical. the new survey out tonight found that six in ten believe that the military involvement will last for some time. how long? that's the question. >> national security interest of the united states justified the risk of american life? what is the role of our country and libya's ongoing civil war? >> many questions there. dana bash joins us with more on the president's challenge with the congress. dana? >> well, john, look, i think it's really without question that the president is giving the
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speech tonight and in large part because of the barrage of criticism that he's been getting from both parties in congress and specifically the idea that main think that he has not defined the mission and offered couldn contradictory and pretty stunning how similar they told me that the questions that they have for the president tonight, what they want him to answer, things like what is the mission here? you mentioned that he said it's a limited role. what is that limited role? what is the u.s. objective? and what is the end game? what is the exit strategy in that is something that members in both parties really emphasized, even members who have supported the mission so far. they said, look, it cannot be open ended. we need to know how long it's going to be there. this is a congress that is definitely wary of campaigns in iraq and afghanistan. this is much smaller scale but it's still meaning manpower and
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money. john? >> a lot of money. dana bash on capitol hill tonight joining me here in the studio, wolf blitzer, my colleague and friend and anchor ever "the situation room." we're watching the president explain to the american people something that is counter to everything that he wanted as the president of the united states. he wanted to focus on the economy and jobs and now he finds himself in a military intervention but, yes, he will say it will be as short as possible. but once it starts, you never know. >> because it's easier to get into a war than to get out of a war. i'll be curious to see if he declares almost as he did over the weekend in that radio and internet address, mission accomplished. he's not going to say mission accomplished because it's not yet been accomplished. if you believe what he has said repeatedly, the mission won't be accomplished until gadhafi is gone, until there is regime change, even though the u.n.
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security council authorizes the nato and coalition does not call for ga dadhafi to be gone. >> what the coalition is doing is just, however, it's personal and his regime change, it's not called for in the u.n. resolution and yet many make the argument that the coalition, including the u.s. air force, especially the opposition force bombing forces and that's not the mission. >> our mission is not to support the opposition forces. our opposition is to prevent civilian casualties. now, there's a link age there. those who are causing civilian casualties are rejeej force so when we degrade the regime
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forces, then certainly we are doing that and there is a benefit to the opposition. but we do not operate in direct support of the opposition forces. >> the general makes it sound like a coincidence but i guess the question is, again, i keep asking because i don't know the answer. it hasn't been explained by the leadership, you've chosen sides in a civil war. you say gadhafi must go and take steps to first release the attack and now soften the battlefield for them. as they move further west and perhaps the civilians are not on their side like they are on the east, how do they do that? >> it's a great question. general ham is an excellent general. i knew him in iraq when i was there and did a good interview with me but makes it sound as if the u.s. and coalition partners are switzerland in this war going on between gadhafi and the rebels. we know that they are not
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switzerland. they are taking a direct role to try to help the opposition defeat gadhafi, not only save themselves and all of of the civilians that could have been slaughtered in ben benghazi and elsewhere but to help them defeat moammar gadhafi, for all practical purposes, it clearly is. the president is going to have to walk that delicate line. i don't know if he will use the "w" word but those are certainly the questions that a lot of members of congress have been pressing for under the great deal of pressure to provide answers. >> moments away from the speech, stay with us. we'll be having special coverage after the speech as well. a live report from tripoli. high stakes for the president of the united states just moments away. i know what works differently than many other allergy medications. omnaris. omnaris. to the nose! did you know nasal symptoms like congestion
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we're right here in the nation's capital of washington, d.c., from the president of the united states explaining to the united states and congress and the global audience about the u.s.'s role in the days and weeks ahead. let's go live to tripoli where nic robertson is. what is your sense of what the regime is looking for right now as the president of the united states addresses this conflict? >> i think the international
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community is going to back away of coalition strikes here and we're going to see gadhafi ride out this storm. he still thinks he is losing territory to the rebels and when you talk to officials here in the capital, everyone says that this is a guy willing to take the fight to the end. i think we've learned something very important in the last couple of days. gadhafi has said that he will go down eight country will go down burning around him. before gadhafi or without ga gave tea setting fire to them, it's an important indication of the way he's going to play this out. he may not go down in flames as he is predicting but at the moment that doesn't seem to be any cracks in the leadership and i talked to a top diplomat who admits that he's got forces that have made mistakes recently handling the last few years without reforms but the man is not a guy that is going to back
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down readily, quickly, and easily. >> john, thank you for being with us. general is back with us. as a military commander, the president of the united states has said publicly gadhafi must go. it's not the mandate that this coalition is operating under from the united nations. does that mixed message complicate your job as a military commander? >> we always look for my favorite word is clarity. i think we're getting that -- the political decision making has shifted to nato. that's a very important issue here and those decisions will be made at nato. the u.s. has great influence at nato and those sort of decisions how far they will go. >> the resolution empowering these troops does not say gadhafi must go. how do you keep going? >> it's going to be a political decision. whether that comes from the u.n., nato, or the organization of african states, it has to be a political decision that has to be made to the military
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commanders. >> david gergen, cnn analyst, back here with the conversation. i want to go to you first, because you have more clarity now the general says. given that the political leadership says gadhafi must go, the generals on the ground say that's not their order so they are not to attack him. the question now, as the opposition moves west, will they continue to help? >> i think it's going to turkey and germany have only given a grudging support right now, you may see nato go for a cease fire between gadhafi and the rebels or a couple of weeks if this war does not finish and the european allies are starward but do not have the capacity have the commitment of the united states
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to have this commitment of the part of the world and i think it's going to be difficult for the president and defense secretary, members of congress and respect the holdover from the bush administration. bob gates, have u.s. pilots in the air, u.s. ships at sea, and yet secretary gates says this is important to the united states but it doesn't reach the ultima ultimate threshold for national security. >> no, it was not a vital interest but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons that secretary clinton talked about. the engagement of the arabs, the europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake. >> david gergen, is that clarity to you?
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>> i think it's truth. i'm not sure it's clarity. and i do want to emphasize, i have some differences with my good friend, the general. by handing this off to nato and making a big deal about it, yes, it does change who leads the operation. but as i think nick burns is right, the united states having committed -- having carried out the 1600 so far, 1,000 of them by the united states, the united states -- the united states tamahawks changes this. it cannot change the outcome of libya. if there is a stale meat, the united states is going to have to be involved in a serious way. what happens if gadhafi leaves office? the united states is going to have to be involved in it. i hope we don't hear, we've done our job, we're out of here, i hope tonight we're going to hear a more realistic speech about
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what is going to happen down the road and what he is prepared for the united states to do under those circumstances. >> and you can see vice president bite den taking their seats. that is part of the army's ft. mcnair right here in washington, d.c. there is an important global message as the leader of the nato alliance and back on to the domestic challenges here at home? >> he's got three audiences that he's addressing. certainly the american people first and foremost and explain what the united states is doing. then he's got the people of libya, especially gadhafi, his sons, the libyan military. he's going to try to convince them that it's over, give up, your days are numbered. you can survive if you give up
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now. otherwise, it's over. and then and he's got certain points he's going to make to them as well. this is one of those speeches that all of us know as they cover presidents, they work for hours and days. every sentence is carely, carefully weighed for what it could mean, the symbolism and direct point and i'm sure those will have the knew wants as well. >> every problem of the world comes into your inbox. >> the middle east is on fire right now. >> i think we have to understand that this does set a precedent. >> does it set a precedent? the government of bahrain has fired on its people. the government of syria has
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fired on its people. in those countries, if you are an anti government pro democracy demonstrator, do you have a right to say, why does the president have a -- >> it would be a very difficult question for any american president to answer if a similar revolt happened in iran and the regime there decided that they would potentially slaughter thousands of people, does the u.s. and the europeans and nato and the rest of the region stay on the sidelines and let these people die or use this libyan example as a precedent? >> which i think makes it very interesting, as we prepare for the president to come out, how big is this speech? is it just about libya or does he talk about the challenges in the region and his approach going forward to a situation that is certainly not a one size fits all solution.
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ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. >> tonight i'd like to update the american people on the international effort that we have led in libya, what we've done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us. i want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism, and patriotism. they have moved win credible speed and strength. because of them, and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved. meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally japan leaving iraq to its people, stopping the taliban's
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momentum in afghanistan, and going after al qaeda all across the globe. as commander in chief, immigrateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen and to their families and i know all americans share in that sentiment. for generations, the united states of america has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world's many challenges. but when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. that's what's happened in libya over the course of these last six weeks.
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libya sits directly between tunisia and egypt, two nations that inspire the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. for more than four decades, the libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant, moammar gadhafi. he has denied his people freedom, exploited their went, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world, including americans who were killed by libyan agents. last month, gadhafi's grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. and cities and towns across the country, libyan's took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. as one libyan said, for the first time, we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.
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faced with this opposition, gadhafi began attacking his people. as president, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens. so we evacuated our embassy and all americans who sought our assistance. when we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer gadhafi's aggression, we froze more than $33 billion of gadhafi's regime assets. joining with other nations of the united nations security council, we brought in our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo and enabled gadhafi and those around him to be accountable for their crimes. i made it clear that gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead and i said that he needed to step down from power. in the face of the world's
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condemnation, gadhafi chose to accelerate his attacks and innocent people were targeted for killing. hospitals and ambulances were attacked. journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. supplies of food and fuel were choked off. water for hundreds of thousands of people were shut off. cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed and apartment buildings deduced to rubble. military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air. confronted by this brutal repression and a looming war crisis, i ordered warships in the mediterranean. european allies committed
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resources to stop the killing. the libyan opposition and the arab league appealed to save lives in libya. america led an effort with our allies at the united nations security council to pass an historic resolution that authorized a in fly zone to stop the regime attacks from the air and all other measures to protect the libyan people. ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered gadhafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing or face the consequences. rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of ben benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women, and children who south their freedom from fear.
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at this point, the united states and the world faced a choice. gadhafi declared he would show no mercy to his own people. he compared them to rats and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. in the past, we had seen him hang civilians in the streets and kill over 1,000 people in a single day. now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. we knew that if we wanted -- if we waited one more day, ben benghazi, a city nearly the size of charlotte could suffer a massacre that would have reverb rated across the nation. it was not in our national interest to let that happen.
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i refused to let that happen. and so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of congress, i authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce u.n. security council resolution 1973. we struck regime forces approaching ben benghazi to save that city and the people within it. we hit gadhafi troops allowing the opposition to drive them out. we hit gadhafi's air defenses which paved the way for a no fly zone. we targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities and cut off much of their source of supply. and tonight i can report that we have stopped gadhafi's deadly advance. in this effort, the united states has not acted alone. instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition.
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this includes our closest allies, nations like the united kingdom, france, canada, denmark, norway, italy, spain, greece, and turkey, all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. and it includes arab partners, like qatar and the united arab emirates. to summarize them, in just one month, the united states has worked with our international partners to mobbize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to secure civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre and establish a no fly zone with our allies and partners. to lend some perspective of hon rapidly this response came
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together, when people were being brutalized in bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. it took us 31 days. moreover, we've accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that i made to the american people at the outset of our military operations. i said that america's role would be limited and that we would not put ground troops into libya, that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge. our most effective alliance, nato, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no fly zone. last night, nato decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting libyan civilians.
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this transfer from the united states to nato will take place on wednesday. going forward, the lead in enforcing the no fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners and i am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on gadhafi's remaining forces. in that effort, the united states will play a supporting role, including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. because of this transition to a broader nato-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation to our military and to american taxpayers will be reduced significantly. so for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, i want to be clear, the united states of america has
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done what we said we would do. that's not to say that our work is complete. in addition to our nato responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. we will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the gadhafi regime so that it's available to rebuild libya. after all, the money doesn't belong to gadhafi or to us. it belongs to the libyan people and we'll make sure that they receive it. tomorrow, secretary clinton will go to london where she will meet with the libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations. these discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure gadhafi while supporting a transition to that the libyan people deserve.
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because while our military mission is focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a libya that belongs not to a dictator but to its people. now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, i know that some americans continue to have questions about our efforts in libya. gadhafi has not yet stepped down from power and until he does, libya will remain dangerous. moreover, even after gadhafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left libya fractured and without strong institutions. the transition to a legitimate government will be a difficult task and while the united states will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community. and more importantly, a task for the libyan people themselves.
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in fact, much of the debate in washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to libya. on the one hand, some question why america should intervene at all, even in limited ways in this distant land. they argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians place brutal violence at the hands of their government and america should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home. it's true that america cannot use our military wherever repression occurs and given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests versus the needs for action. but that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what is right.
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in this particular country, at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we had a unique ability to stop that violence, an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of arab countries and a plea for help from the libyans themselves. we also have the ability to stop the forces in their tracks without putting american troops on the ground. to brush aside the responsibility as a leader and more profoundly our responsibility to fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. the united states of america is different and as president i
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refuse to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action. moreover, america has an important strategic interest in preventing gadhafi from overrunning those who oppose him. a massacre would have driven additional refugees across libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful yet fragile transitions in egypt and tunisia. the democratic impulsing across as repressive leaders say violence is the best way to cling to power. the writ of the united states united council would have been crippling that institution's credibility to uphold peace and security. so while i will never minimize
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the costs involved in military action, i am convinced that a failure to act in libya would have carried a far greater price for america. now, just as there are those that have argued against intervention in libya, there are others who have suggested that we have brought our military action beyond the task of protecting the libyan people and do whatever it takes to bring down gadhafi and usher in a new government. of course, there is no question that libya and the world would be better off with gadhafi out of power. i along with many other world leaders have embraced that goal and will actively pursue it through nonmilitary means. but broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake. the task that i assigned our forces to protect the libyan
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people from immediate danger and to establish a no fly zone carries with it a u.n. mandate and international support. it's also what the libyan opposition asked us to do. if we tried to overthrow gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter. we would likely have to put u.s. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission or risk killing many civilians from the air. the dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. so would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next. to be blunt, we went down that road in iraq. thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about iraq's future but regime change there took eight years, thousands of
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american and iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. that is not something we can afford to repeat in libya. as the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we efforts ratchets down, what we can do and will do is support the aspirations of the libyan people. we have intervened to stop a massacre and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. we will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition and to work with other nations to hasten the day when gadhafi leaves power. it may not happen overnight as a badly weakened gadhafi tries to desperately to hang on to power. but it should be clear to those
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around gadhafi and to every libyan, that time is not on gadhafi's side. that with the time and space that we have provided the libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny. and that is how it should be. let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of america's military power and america's broader leadership in the world under my presidency. as commander in chief, i have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. i have made it clear that i will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. that's why we're going after al
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qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. that's why we continue to fight in afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops in that country. there will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. sometimes the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security, responding to natural disasters, for example, or preventing genocide and keeping the peace, ensuring regional security and maintaining the flow of commerce. these may not be america's problems alone, but they are important to us. they're problems worth solving. and in these circumstances, we know that the united states is the world's most powerful nation will often be called upon to help.
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in such cases, we should not be afraid to act. but the burden of action should not be america's alone. as we have in libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. because contrary to the claims of some, american leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. real leadership creates the conditions in coalitions for others to step up as well. to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs. and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all. that's the kind of leadership we have shown in libya. of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks
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of any military action will be high. those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over libya. yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground in a country whose leader has so often demonized the united states, in a region that has such a difficult history with our country, this american did not find enemies. instead he was met by people who embraced him. one young libyan who came to his aid said, we are your friends. we are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies. this voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer. yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a
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time. progress will be uneven and change will come differently to different countries. there are places like egypt where this change will inspire us. and raise our hopes. and then there will be places like iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. the dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed. the united states will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change, only the people of the region can do that. but we can make a difference. i believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back. and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms.
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our opposition to violence directed at one's own people. our support for a set of universal rights including the freedom of people to express themselves and choose their leaders, our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people. born as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the middle east and north africa. and that young people are leading the way. because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the united states. ultimately it is that faith, those ideals, that are the true measure of american leadership.
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my fellow americans, i know that at a time of upheaval overseas, when the news is filled with conflict and change, it can be tempting to turn away from the world. and as i have said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. that must always be our north star, the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a well spring for our power and to live the values that we hold so dear. but let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people as well as millionsaround the globe. we have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if
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more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity. tonight, let us give thanks for the americans who are serving through these trying times. and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. let us look to the future with confidence and hope. not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world. thank you, god bless you, and may god bless the united states of america. thank you. the president of the united states strongly defending his policy in libya, saying the united states had done exactly
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what it promised to do in stopping what could have been a massacre in benghazi and other cities in libya's east. the united states now will step back and let others take charge. moammar gadhafi might not be done overnight, but the policy so far in his view is a success, and to go further, he said bluntly, he used the word to repeat the mistakes of george w. bush in iraq. our special coverage of the president's address, i'm joined by my colleagues anderson cooper and wolf blitzer. as you take this away, the president obviously speaking to the unit states, the people of libya and a global audience wondering what's next here. >> john, as you said, i'm joining wolf blitzer for the next hour of coverage. he wasn't just trying to explain the mission in terms of moral responsibility to act, to stop the potential slaughter of civilians in the sec